Elena loves books. Even back in Austin before she could talk, I knew she would occupy herself for at least 45 minutes if I just let her take all the books off her bookshelf. She was gentle enough with them that I could leave her in her room alone and just poke my head in periodically to make sure the bookcase wasn’t about to fall over on her. She would look at some and stack them up and just enjoy being with her books. These days she would happily have me read to her all day long if I would agree.
In April, when we visited Powell’s Books in Portland, I made a point of speaking to a staff member in the children’s section to ask about books for Elena. Mark and I needed her to move on to new reading material, as we were getting tired of reading the exact same books over and over. The staff member asked a few questions and then headed over to a wall of beginning chapter books and pointed out the Rainbow Fairy series. They’re real big-kid chapter books, but still have drawings on almost every page. We bought two, read them quickly, and didn’t think any more about them. Not long after we moved to England, while I was browsing in one of the thrift shops I saw more of these Rainbow Magic books and bought a few for her. Over the next two weeks I looked for these books in every thrift shop we passed and bought any of them that i could find. I’m kind of a sucker for buying her books and she knows it, so she made sure to remind me to look for them. The books have all gone to live in my room and are very effective incentives to encourage proper behavior (some might call this a bribe). After she earns a book, it becomes hers and lives in a small storage bench in the front room, which we call her Book Box.
She frequently pulls the books we’ve read back out of the box and studies each one, examining the pictures page by page and pretending she’s reading. Almost every day she pulls all of the books out and lines them up on the couch and floor. She likes to look at each cover and she’ll ask me to remind her of each fairy’s name. Recently, we’ve found this series at the local library, which is good since I cleaned out the the thrift stores. With more than 60 books in this series, I think it might take us to the end of our six months here to get through them all.